What is the Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is the one time every year that Medicare beneficiaries have an opportunity to review and change their coverage — either a Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan. It is also called the Annual Coordinated Election Period or the Annual Election Period. This period is October 15-December 7 of each year.

How do I prepare for Open Enrollment?
Medicare Advantage and drug plans must send to members the
Annual Notice of Changes in October. This summarizes changes to your benefits and costs that will take effect January 1 of the next calendar year. The plan can also send the Evidence of Coverage, a detailed description of benefits and costs for the next plan year.

Compare the information in those new plan documents with the ones for your plan(s) currently in effect, looking for any changes.

What things can change about my prescription drug coverage?
Here are some of the aspects of drug coverage that may change:
– Monthly premium
– Drug formulary
– Medication tiers
– Annual deductible
– Copayments or coinsurance
– Coverage rules (step therapy, prior authorization)
– Additional benefits in the Coverage Gap (donut hole)
– Pharmacy network, including preferred pharmacies
– Star (quality) ratings

What changes should I look for if I have a Medicare Advantage plan?
First, know that people with Medicare Advantage plans with Part D coverage (MA-PD) should also check out changes in drug coverage (refer to the previous point). Then, pay attention to any changes related to your health insurance:

– Monthly premium
– Annual deductible
– Annual out-of-pocket spending limit
– Your out-of-pocket costs (copayments, coinsurance)
– Provider network
– Star (quality) ratings
– Optional benefits, such as vision or dental coverage.

How do I switch plans.

There are several ways.
– Call 1-800-MEDICARE.
– Call the new plan you want.
– Enroll online at medicare.gov.
– Enroll online at the plan’s website.

When you enroll in the new plan, you will be disenrolled automatically
from the previous plan. You do not need to take any action. Any changes take effect on January 1.

What can I do during the Open Enrollment Period?
What you can do depends on the type of coverage you have now. If
you have Original Medicare with or without a Supplement:
» Drop this coverage and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
» Change, enroll in or drop Part D prescription drug coverage.*
» If you have a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage (known as an MA-PD plan):

» Switch to another MA-PD plan.
» Change to a Medicare Advantage plan without drug coverage.* If you have a Medicare Advantage plan without drug coverage:
» Switch to another Medicare Advantage plan without drug coverage.
» Add drug coverage through an MA-PD plan.

What if I don’t need to change anything?
If you are satisfied with your coverage and costs, don’t do anything. Your plan will re-enroll you automatically for next year.

FYI: If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you cannot enroll in Medicare during this period.

You must wait for the General Enrollment Period, January 1-March 31, to enroll. Then, your Medicare coverage will not take effect until July 1 of that year.

*Beware — you may face consequences for dropping Part D drug coverage.